Never again. This is what many young people across the nation are now saying. Never. Again. For the first time in a long time, students are raising their voices in a way that is being heard by the nation.
Gun control has been a highly debated issue in the United States for decades. While many people have been advocating for restrictions on the availability of guns throughout the years, it was the most recent death of seventeen innocent high school students and teachers that triggered the #NeverAgain grassroots movement through boycotts and protests to demand that congress finally pass sensible gun control laws. Who are these brave people leading the movement you may ask? Students. Students who have experienced the effects of gun violence first hand. Students who were survivors of this senseless massacre. Students who are taking control of their own safety.
Wednesday, February 14 was just another normal school day for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That is, until former student, nineteen year old Nicholas Cruz, opened fire with an AR-15 style semi-automatic assault rifle taking the lives of seventeen students and faculty members, and injuring 14 others. It was a gruesome day. In an instant, this high school went from being a place of safety, fun, and learning, to a permanent nightmare. For those who survived, all of their positive memories of high school were demolished. The image of their fellow classmates and teachers bleeding out on the floor will be ingrained in their heads for the rest of their lives. It is difficult and heartbreaking to imagine what it would have been like to be there, and no student should have to experience this kind of tragedy. Most students do not want to imagine something as horrific as this, which is maybe why it has taken so long for change to happen. It is challenging for both high school students and adults to face the terror.
Several student survivors though, chose to look their fear and anger in the face, and are now taking action. Although grieving, the students knew that we, as a nation, could not continue on this path with such loose gun control. They knew if they did not make a change now, this type of nightmare could, and most likely would, happen again, and could be even worse. Only four days after the shooting twenty student survivors, the most prominent being Jaclyn Corin, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Alex Wind, began the “Never Again” movement and planned a nationwide protest: “March for Our Lives” on March 24th. The students knew it was essential to start the movement as soon after the shooting as possible to get real media traction. Reporters from all over the nation were in their town, and if the students didn’t raise their voices while the spotlight was on them, they knew this would go down as just another school shooting that no one did anything about.
After the candlelight vigil, Kasky held the first planning meeting for the movement when he invited some of his friends over to his house. They began creating social media accounts and taking every step possible to make the movement impactful. Where most would see devastation and tragedy, these students saw possibility, the possibility that this could in fact be the last school shooting in history.
Their courage and determination ignited a fire among students and adults nationwide. They too decided that they could not except the fate of another shooting, whether it be in a school or anywhere else, taking the lives of innocent people. Many people have been bystanders to tragic events that have not directly affected them. Of course people would always send prayers and have feelings of remorse and sadness for those suffering the tragedies, but never before like this. Everyone is feeling the effects of this shooting even weeks after it occurred. We are experiencing it more directly, more close to home. These Parkland student survivors are just like all of us: young people raising their voice, needing to be heard. They have inspired a nation to raise its voice louder than ever before. Never. Again.